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True independence on Nakba Day: accountability and healing as an Israeli aggressor

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I am an Israeli-American. I was raised in a middle-class academic ‘Liberal Zionist’ household (aligned with the Israeli Labor Party and Meretz), which is an inherent contradiction. Liberal Zionism maintains a belief in universal human rights yet it supports a Zionist ideology that endorses and promotes Israel as a Jewish state – one that has been systematically carrying out a project of apartheid and ethnic cleansing of the native Palestinian people.

Since I can remember, my birth town of Jerusalem has been highly segregated. Growing up, I never interacted with Palestinians other than Abed the soft-spoken gardener from Hebron (aka El Khalil), Rada the lady who cleaned our home on occasion (and would delight me with a bottle of delicious home-made olive oil from her groves in Beit Jala) and the delivery boy from East Jerusalem who was my age and worked at the local grocery store.

The Zionist narrative was deeply entrenched within me from an early age. I was convinced Israel is the David eternally pitted against the Arabs, who were the Goliaths out to get me and my fellow Jewish tribesmen and women. In school I learned about the succession of Jewish traumas and the various Israeli wars, which were always framed as romantic, just and heroic yet defensive and unavoidable. At home I heard about the horrific abuses members of my family went through and their incredible journeys to the shores of Palestine. Alternative narratives of settler-colonialism and occupation were completely absent and even the word “Palestinian” was considered radically political and controversial.

At the age of 18, I enlisted into the standard three-year military service in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) as a medic in the paratroopers. During my service I was stationed in multiple “hot zones”, predominantly South Lebanon (which was occupied by Israel at the time) and Hebron (aka El Halil in Arabic) in the West Bank. I manned checkpoints and participated in raids, ambushes and other military operations and exercises. During this time, I was also exposed to the fundamentalism, violence and racism of the Israeli settlers against native Palestinians.

I believed I held high moral ground and could serve as a positive influence within the military. But the Israeli state’s trinity of nationalism, religion and capitalism had managed to thoroughly indoctrinate me with propaganda (aka “Hasbara”) that dehumanized the Palestinian ‘other’ and was meant to alleviate any moral dilemmas I encountered while carrying out policies of oppression.

Following the army, the intensity and barrage of stressful and traumatic news that constitute the Israeli experience caused me to shut myself off from my environment. As a result, and similar to many Israelis my age, I willfully disengaged from any political involvement. The occupation was just too “complicated” and I opted to focus solely on my personal development.

A demonstration in Silwan, East Jerusalem. (Photo: Yoav Litvin)

Fear and propaganda – an evolutionary perspective

I went on to study biological psychology in the United States specializing in the behavioral neuroscience of fear, stress, social behaviors, aggression and trauma. My studies have afforded me the opportunity to investigate the neurobehavioral pathways involved in conflict and its resolution from the aspects of both aggressor and victim. I have found that studying the science of trauma and its healing can benefit our efforts to understand and find effective solutions to political conflict.

At some point during my studies, I was challenged on my Zionist beliefs. I realized I was spewing propaganda that I could not back with facts, as I was accustomed to with my scientific research. My ignorance and emotionality regarding Zionism, in addition to my newfound ability and curiosity to reengage with politics due to the geographical and mental distance from the once overwhelming Israeli propaganda machine, inspired me to conduct my own research into the history of Israel and Zionism, the occupation of Palestine and the subjugation of Palestinians. It has helped me come to terms with my own history as aggressor and as a purveyor of a narrative that is inconsistent with historical truth, has created gross injustice for an entire peoples and continues to cause great pain and misery within the Middle East and the world.

Zionism is based on a rather simplistic Darwinian outlook, which employs a dualistic, ‘us versus them’ racist and exclusivist philosophy, i.e. in the ‘rough neighborhood of the Middle East only the strong tribe survives’. We see that perspective represented by a long line of pro-aggression, expansionist and militaristic Israeli governments that instill and potentiate fear in order to control public opinion and facilitate their political and economic goals.

Since its inception, Israeli politicians invoke fear by perpetuating a victim narrative based on centuries of real persecution of Jewish peoples. In effect, they reinforce a form of collective Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), whereby annihilation is eternally around the corner. Thus, fear enables a level of aggression and oppression that is a part of daily life in the reality of occupation.

However, ‘survival of the fittest’ is not the only dominant force in human development.

Evolution also emphasizes the adaptive utility of altruistic and cooperative behavior based on humans’ natural qualities as a social species. Though it is very difficult to overcome fear and cultivate empathy in an environment of separation, aggression and hatred, it is possible through a principled and sustained process of education, communication and collaboration, which can be achieved using universal human languages to connect and bridge gaps, such as art and music.

The Psychology of Healing

In my experiments in the laboratory, I trained rodents to become afraid of certain stimuli (odors/lights/tones) by pairing them to innate fears or pain (“fear conditioning”) and then to overcome those conditioned fears by a process of re-exposure to those same stimuli in neutral settings (“extinction of fear”). Once extinguished, I could “reinstate” the fears of these stimuli by scaring or hurting these animals without the presence of the neutral stimuli. As these neural systems are conserved in all mammals, it is valid to extrapolate findings on trauma and its healing in rodents to humans.

In order for Israeli aggressors to heal, en route to re-humanization and reconciliation with our Palestinian victims, we must break the cycle of violence and inequality, which is based on a similar process of conditioning and its reinstatement by various means, such as fear mongering and trauma. For this to happen, Israelis need to go through a painful internal process of deconstruction and reconstruction of our internal narratives, which includes a humble yet relentless quest for historical truth, a sense of deep outrage at the lies, tribalism and fear we were indoctrinated with, and a true reckoning with the profound shame and guilt at the crimes we were involved in both directly and indirectly by association or via our collective silence. Further, Israelis need to channel our outrage toward dissent; i.e. undermining state systems of oppression. Lastly, we must communicate and forge bonds with Palestinians that are based on the universal values of equality, freedom and justice.

Today is a perfect day of reckoning for Israelis: the anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba (“catastrophe” in Arabic), when Zionist forces ethnically cleansed Palestine of its native peoples in order to fulfill their goal of Judaizing the land. Perfectly representing the tragic chasm and inequality between the two, Israelis celebrate Independence Day, while the native Palestinians’ memorial day is ignored and outlawed in their own home.

To heal, we as Israelis must abandon exclusivism and choose the evolutionary path of empathy and altruism. This painful process includes acknowledging shame and guilt and embracing historical truth over propaganda. Once the bond between Zionism and the self is broken Israelis will be able to engage in dissent as a legitimate and natural means of building an inclusive and just society in Israel/Palestine.

Yoav Litvin

Yoav Litvin is a doctor of psychology/behavioral neuroscience, a documentary photographer and writer living in New York City. You can find him at

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62 Responses

  1. eljay on May 3, 2017, 10:41 am

    My thanks and respect to you, Mr. Litvin.

  2. Don on May 3, 2017, 3:53 pm

    I second Eljay…thanks and respect, Mr. Litvin.

  3. Citizen on May 3, 2017, 3:55 pm

    Thanks, Mr. Litvin.

    Certainly a new version of MAUS. BTW, what you call collective Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), if memory serves, Atzmon calls collective Pre-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSS), if memory serves.

    • y_litvin on May 3, 2017, 6:54 pm

      I just read about Atzmon’s PTSS.
      It is a rather absurd, cartoonish concept that attributes malice to a collective and lacks empathy, and is very poorly thought out psychologically, whereas PTSD fits rather well in this case, as epigenetic studies have proven anxiety disorders can be transferred between generations.
      Thanks for reading.

      • Mooser on May 4, 2017, 6:17 pm

        “I just read about Atzmon’s PTSS
        It is a rather absurd, cartoonish concept that attributes malice to a collective and lacks empathy, and is very poorly thought out psychologically,

        He won’t get away with it. Nobody does that to us. Well, of course, we do that to us, but that’s different. Nobody else gets to.

      • Mooser on May 5, 2017, 6:30 pm

        “as epigenetic studies have proven anxiety disorders can be transferred between generations.”

        By genetic inheritance, and not by behavior?

      • y_litvin on May 5, 2017, 7:41 pm

        Michael Meaney from McGill was one of the pioneers of “Behavioral Genetics”, the field I’m referencing. He was a researcher with my former advisor – Bruce McEwen at The Rockefeller University.
        See here for pop science review:

      • Mooser on May 6, 2017, 11:26 am

        “See here for pop science review:”

        Ho-kay! Should be good.
        I prefer pop or Jazz Judaism to classical Judaism, too.

        What about male-infant trauma? You figure that in?

  4. pabelmont on May 3, 2017, 6:06 pm

    It would indeed be a fine thing, as Mr. Litvin says, if Israelis (or many of them) could break free of the chains of hasbara and see the world and themselves (and the Palestinians) in a universal ethical light. The pathway to that wonderful day isd no more clear in this badly cluttered world than, for instance, the pathway toward a zero-emissions day (context: global warming).

  5. JosephA on May 4, 2017, 12:31 am

    I thank the author very much for sharing his personal story.

  6. annie on May 4, 2017, 1:47 am

    great article. soo.. i checked out litvin’s site. highly recommend Commute #1954

    just wow.

    • gamal on May 4, 2017, 8:35 am

      “just wow.”

      that was great thanks, simple and fascinating, i love this kind of stuff, all that the things we run through when nothing is going on.

      i once sat opposite linton kwesi johnson on the tube, he was being importuned by a starry eyed Indian girl, so i just watched, as I in my suit and tie got up to leave a young buck smashed the side of my head with a backpack shouted “sorry” and ran off the train, linton and the girl were looking at me we made eyed contact.

      “inglan is a bitch, for true” i suggested in perfect patois, the girl squealed in delight Linton laughed I strutted from the carriage still seeing stars..

      • y_litvin on May 4, 2017, 11:07 am

        Thanks for reading

    • Froggy on May 4, 2017, 4:32 pm

      Annie :: just wow.

      ‘Commute #1954’ actually brought tears to my eyes. How well I remember.

  7. xanadou on May 4, 2017, 3:50 am

    Inasmuch as I respect Mr. Litvin’s coming out of the zio closet, it’s hard for me to see a point beyond the teary-eyed retrospective that I and many others have heard from many israelis. This is one of those stories that has been told too many times and it just does not resonate anymore, at least with this commentator.

    70 years into the horror that is israel and its non-stop terror, generation after generation of a small number of young recruits come to see the light and elect to disassociate themselves from their initial indoctrination reminiscent of the days of Soviet communism. While the ensuing changes are overwhelmingly for the worse.

    By now I can only say: bravo, Mr. Litvin and why should I care? How does this affect the grinding gears of the wheel of misfortune that mercilessly crushes without reprieve ever higher numbers, in ever more grisly manner the young, the old, men, women and children of Palestine who live the Naqba every day without adequate electricity and water, being flushed with the settlers’ waste, without adequate food, in bombed-out houses, waiting for the soldaten hammering at the door of a Palestinian family in the middle of the night… and yet who are holding fast to hope of liberation from the hideous parochial midget wanna-be global player.

    This is a story that matters to Mr. Litvin and others who preceded him and those who will follow in the years to come, individuals who have made a decision to join humanity. Mr. Litvin dutifully did his duty while in uniform. He risks nothing. His apostasy as an individual is of no consequence to israel. He has retained his israeli citizenship, and can now serve as a passive if unwilling, useful idiot to the israeli PR who can point at individuals like him as an example of israeli “democratic” freedoms. More b/s with which to prolong the global silence. Mr. Litvin risks nothing while the state of israel continues to successfully shut up the world from openly expressing its growing contempt and disgust. This is not a healthy way for the israelis to continue into the future. No one wants to hear about the distant past anymore. The deafening noise of israeli bombings and the sea of Palestinian blood has created a new image of israel as a genocidal monster. The victimised Jew is no more and, sadly, is viewed as a tedious tale told too often and in disregard of similar horrific massacres such as e.g., the Ukrainian Holodomor during which a quarter of the population was slaughtered by Gendrih Yagoda and his henchmen. As if this were about “my numbers are bigger than your numbers”. (It isn’t)

    Mr. Litvin, this is not to diminish you own likely still painful separation from ziofascism. But I would much rather hear what you, as a former insider, are doing, if anything, to help end the Palestinian gehenna. Today I am much more interested to hear and propagate stories about my heroes the Rabbis for Human Rights, B’tselem, and most of all, the nameless Israelis, all of whom put their bodies between the soldaten of the genocidal state and the Palestinians.

    • y_litvin on May 4, 2017, 11:06 am

      This article was not meant for you. I’ve written others that would perhaps be more up your alley (see:, but I can’t promise anything. Writing is an art form for me- with each piece I try to appeal to different people, and perhaps inspire positive action.
      You raise some excellent points, which I agree with. Why should you care about my story? You shouldn’t- I used it to convey more important points about a situation I find devastating.
      You want a trophy for being a cynic? Stand in line.

      • Misterioso on May 4, 2017, 6:53 pm

        MUST READ!!

        London Review of Books, May 4/17

        Diary by Fida Jiryis

        A Close up look at Israeli apartheid.

        For Palestinians, the choice between life in Israel and life in the West Bank is a choice between two systems of Israeli aggression, different only in their manifestations. Both are deadly and soul-crushing.

    • RoHa on May 4, 2017, 7:37 pm

      Xanadou, I am similarly unimpressed by these True Confessions, be they Mr. Litvin’s, the Mills and Boone “moonbeams” story, or others, unless they are followed by some sort of positive action.

      • echinococcus on May 4, 2017, 9:16 pm

        I must add that what we are asking is: when do the Zionist invaders get out and make restitution? What is going to break them and how do we achieve it before they achieve success with their genocide of the Palestinians.

        This gentleman’s main concern is formulated as:

        In order for Israeli aggressors to heal, en route to re-humanization and reconciliation with our Palestinian victims, we must…

        Who gives a rodent’s ass, even if it is one of his lab rats, about the state of the invaders’ soul? Get out. Shoo. Get lost, and if you want to talk about your several moods and feelings, please spare us the talk. It’s not the Zionists’ “healing” that will help destroy the Zionist entity.

        In fact, whoever supports the Resistance (except for those who care more about the invaders’ well-being) is interested not in healing, but in destroying the Zionist invaders.

        I hope this is not interpreted as an attack on the author, who must be encouraged in finally trying to wake up and oppose Zionism. I hope he can walk further until joining the deserters, then the resistance. “Healing” the goddam invaders is not part of this –incapacitating some is an urgent task, so that fewer Palestinians get killed, maimed or robbed.

      • Sibiriak on May 7, 2017, 1:42 am

        echinococcus: Get out. Shoo. Get lost

        Quite effective. High risk. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Speaking for yourself, of course. That that will surely help destroy the Zionist entity.

  8. xanadou on May 4, 2017, 4:59 am

    Dear MW or Mr. Litwin, my computer has apparently been hacked by hasbara fanatics who would rather I did not criticise the petty genocidal state who needs said flunkies to maintain the phony facade of a civilised, humane and modern state, even if after 70 years it will not define its borders. A sign of disinterest in being considered a state, perhaps? (rhetorical). Feel free to delete the second iteration of my comment-in=progress.

    This comes with apologies for any inconvenience. And an example for Mr. Litvin of what it’s like to dare to defy the b/s PR of an insecure fascist state afraid of a nobody with the courage to stand up to a viscious monster. As a descendant of a family who had lost many among them to the Nazis while saving many Jews from the Warsaw ghetto, today I fight the descendants of the saved white zios to save hope for a peaceful future for Palestinians.

    Other aspects of my defiance have a more painful physical dimension.

    Viva Palestina!

  9. JLewisDickerson on May 4, 2017, 2:38 pm

    RE: “True independence on Nakba Day: accountability and healing as an Israeli aggressor”

    A Clockwork Orange (film) ~
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    [EXCERPTS] A Clockwork Orange is a 1971 dystopian crime film adapted, produced, and directed by Stanley Kubrick . . .

    . . . Alex (Malcolm McDowell), the main character, is a charismatic, antisocial delinquent whose interests include classical music (especially Beethoven), rape, and what is termed “ultra-violence”. He leads a small gang of thugs (Pete, Georgie, and Dim), whom he calls his droogs (from the Russian word друг, “friend”, “buddy”). The film chronicles the horrific crime spree of his gang, his capture, and attempted rehabilitation via controversial psychological conditioning. . .

    . . . Two years into the sentence [i.e., Alex’s prison sentence], Alex eagerly takes up an offer to be a test subject for the Minister of the Interior’s new Ludovico technique, an experimental aversion therapy for rehabilitating criminals within two weeks. Alex is strapped to a chair, injected with drugs, and forced to watch films of sex and violence. . .

    • Psychology

    Another critical target is the behaviourism or “behavioural psychology” propounded by psychologists John B. Watson and B. F. Skinner. Burgess disapproved of behaviourism, calling Skinner’s book Beyond Freedom and Dignity (1971) “one of the most dangerous books ever written.” Although behaviourism’s limitations were conceded by its principal founder, Watson, Skinner argued that behaviour modification — specifically, operant conditioning (learned behaviours via systematic reward-and-punishment techniques) rather than the “classical” Watsonian conditioning — is the key to an ideal society. The film’s Ludovico technique is widely perceived as a parody of aversion therapy, which is a form of classical conditioning.[9] Author Paul Duncan said of Alex: “Alex is the narrator so we see everything from his point of view, including his mental images. The implication is that all of the images, both real and imagined, are part of Alex’s fantasies”.[10] Psychiatrist Aaron Stern, the former head of the MPAA rating board, believed that Alex represents man in his natural state, the unconscious mind. Alex becomes “civilised” after receiving his Ludovico “cure”, and the sickness in the aftermath Stern considered to be the “neurosis imposed by society”.[11] Kubrick told film critics Philip Strick and Penelope Houston that he believed Alex “makes no attempt to deceive himself or the audience as to his total corruption or wickedness. He is the very personification of evil. On the other hand, he has winning qualities: his total candour, his wit, his intelligence and his energy; these are attractive qualities and ones, which I might add, which he shares with Richard III.”[12]. . .

    • JLewisDickerson on May 4, 2017, 3:09 pm

      RE: Kubrick told film critics Philip Strick and Penelope Houston that he believed Alex “makes no attempt to deceive himself or the audience as to his total corruption or wickedness. He is the very personification of evil. On the other hand, he has winning qualities, . . . which I might add, . . . he shares with Richard III.” ~ from the above Wikipedia excerpt

      MY COMMENT: I’m beginning to think of Donald Trump as Alex DeLarge!

      • JLewisDickerson on May 4, 2017, 3:27 pm

        P.P.S. ALSO SEE:
        The Donald Trump Phenomenon: A Psychological Analysis

        Published on May 5, 2016
        Recorded live at The OffshoreAlert Conference on May 3, 2016.

        Donald Trump is leading a political revolution in the United States. This session will involve a psychoanalysis of Trump and his supporters, an explanation of his popularity, and what it says about the USA.

        JOSEPH BURGO Psychotherapist & Author (Colorado)

  10. ClairePhillips54 on May 5, 2017, 2:12 pm

    Who are the victims here? Can’t believe they are now claiming some sort of PTSD, so typical, always the victims and people weep with them. So disappointing MW would publish such garbage and they have certainly lost their credibility over here. End the occupation and abide by international law, I cannot find one reason why anyone should sympathize with a ex IDF soldier.

    • echinococcus on May 5, 2017, 2:49 pm

      I can suggest one reason, and only one: if he turns his gun on his bosses.

      • y_litvin on May 5, 2017, 3:36 pm

        Dear Claire,
        You completely misunderstood this article. As the author of “such garbage” I am not asking for- and do not need anyone’s sympathy, but am using my case to make a diagnosis as a psychologist by profession. I have personally published on anxiety and fear and associated pathologies. Have you? If so, or if familiar with other relevant research- please send me links to articles disproving my claims- I’d be glad to examine them and reform my opinions, if warranted.
        Regardless of whether you like it or not, Israelis must be understood in order for Palestinians to achieve justice. This is a relationship that must be analyzed. The fact that abusers were once abused is a proven fact and is highly relevant.
        Playing tough-guy with the law (though I agree with it) or with a gun as “echinococcus” suggests has gotten us nowhere- in fact, its made things worse for Palestinians, which I assume you advocate for.

      • Mooser on May 5, 2017, 4:52 pm

        “Israelis must be understood in order for Palestinians to achieve justice.”

        My Chef Rabbi explained it to me when I was just a saucier’s apprentice: “Israelis,” he said, “are crackers who think they are matzohs!”

        “I have personally published on anxiety and fear and associated pathologies.”

        And the authoritarian personality, too?

      • gamal on May 5, 2017, 6:26 pm

        “and do not need anyone’s sympathy

        well isn’t that the truth when you a grown up man.

        “Israelis must be understood”

        ok, either “Arabs” are bad and “Jews” are good or vice versa, obviously, understanding Yoav (if that is indeed your name) is for unbelievers.

        “which I assume you advocate for” and whether we bless or curse each other kill or kiss each other time alone is slaughtering us, both my parents had degrees in psychology, my mother was chartered, both students of Eysenk, i hate psychology with an irrational passion, but i love your stuff even the comments dr.

        what do you think that means, and is it treatable?

      • Mooser on May 5, 2017, 7:20 pm

        “I can suggest one reason, and only one: if he turns his gun…”

        Oy Gevalt, such extravagant phraseology! How about “if he takes direct action against…”

        After all, there are many forms of direct action much less drastic but which will be facilitated by easy access.

      • y_litvin on May 5, 2017, 7:48 pm

        gamal- I’m a neuroscientist, not a clinician, so cannot advise re your condition, which seems more in the realm of personality rather than pathology.
        Re Arabs and Jews- I can’t place an entire category of people into either “good” or “bad”. There are elements of each in both societies. I ally myself with the good in both and every society.
        And thanks for kind words re my writing.

      • annie on May 5, 2017, 10:32 pm

        i thought it was an excellent read. i especially liked the emphasis you put on research and “quest for historical truth”. i think reinforcement of collective fear for personal, professional, political or nationalistic gain is a cruel form of societal abuse and brainwashing and in turn it breeds cruelty (“Thus, fear enables a level of aggression and oppression”), even sadism in subjects. . in the forward to mohammad saba’aneh’s new book “white and black” he wrote the occupier is also occupied. it’s true. i don’t know when this will be alleviated as i am not sure the motivation is there to research and seek out the truth given the environment (other than a small minority of the population). more likely just a perpetuation of the same activities. would the rodents have opted to become more educated about their circumstance? relatively, there seems to be so little self awareness/individual accountability in israeli society which may be because of the level of toxic indoctrination.

      • echinococcus on May 5, 2017, 11:02 pm


        Playing tough-guy with the law (though I agree with it) or with a gun as “echinococcus” suggests has gotten us nowhere- in fact, its made things worse for Palestinians, which I assume you advocate for

        “Law”? What law? That of obeying the invader and genocidaire? That of kneeling in front of goddam colonial murderers because they self-declared their “borders”?
        The law, in fact, says you don’t invade and occupy, period. That it’s the supreme international crime. The law also says the crime must be undone and all available means can be used to implement it.

        Regardless of whether you like it or not, Israelis must be understood in order for Palestinians to achieve justice.

        No need to insult logic. The necessary condition (not sufficient, though) “for Palestinians to achieve justice” is to re-establish Palestine and the sovereignty of the Palestinian people over it. Understanding the invaders is not among necessary conditions, even though it may come handy, tactically speaking, in defeating them.

        Right now of course responding directly to US-Zionist violence may be sometimes counterproductive, I’ll give you that. Because of a configuration of forces that we all have been complicit in creating. If, however, you think that the Zionists can be gotten rid of peacefully, I would have suggested you get your head examined –preferably by a clinician. I don’t believe you’d be that clueless.

        As for the words you are objecting to, logic again: the only deserter who is of any appreciable use, the world over, is the one who turns his gun on his bosses.

      • annie on May 6, 2017, 12:12 am

        the only deserter who is of any appreciable use, the world over, is the one who turns his gun on his bosses.

        literally? because whistleblowers can come in very handy, amongst others. but i agree with you about palestinians achieving justice. it doesn’t have to come byway of israelis being understood. i think we get it the world over they fear. whether we choose to have empathy for that fear, or understand that fear, or use it against them, or whatever, is a personal choice. because at this point, i think the colonial project would be escalating at the same rate whether israelis have fear or not. it pretty obvious that fear is being nurtured and used as a tool for further expansion at the expense of palestinians.

        understanding may be the only way to peace, but not to justice.

      • echinococcus on May 5, 2017, 11:25 pm


        Thank you for having enough patience to explain metaphors, part-for-the wholes and the rest of the boring task of text criticism. Looks like I’ll need you more often than I thought.

      • gamal on May 5, 2017, 11:40 pm

        “kind words”

        not at all your skill enthralled me

        and yes i asked for all of the rest, however i am belligerent, so

        “into either “good” or “bad” ”

        you are right Dr. how could i have been so foolish.

        “I ally myself with the good in both and every society”

        ah no Dr. i am not just bad i am very bad but my space is mine my rights are mine if they were violated would you not stand by me i would with you if our positions were reversed, who but us the despised, the bad, need allies, isn’t the “good” fucking up our world,

      • RoHa on May 6, 2017, 12:30 am

        “Israelis must be understood in order for Palestinians to achieve justice.”

        Israelis are terribly misunderstood? Also extremely shy, no doubt.

        Or do you mean that the Palestinians need to understand Israeli weaknesses, and find ways to exploit those weaknesses?

      • echinococcus on May 6, 2017, 1:25 am


        If so, we are agreed. Formulas are used to simplify expression. Just expand it to every level, but still the only reason to sympathize with a Zionist is if he is no longer one and actively works to defeat his side.

        The essential thing is, this is a war, a real boom-boom war, and there are more important things than kissing and shmoozing with a hugely overwhelming enemy. Deserters among the dominant side are sorely needed but many who try to present themselves as “sympathetic” to the weaker side are the enemy.

      • annie on May 6, 2017, 1:58 pm

        echi, i think we agree “understanding” ones adversaries is not a necessary condition to achieve justice.

        the only reason to sympathize with a Zionist is if he is no longer one and actively works to defeat his side…. there are more important things than kissing and shmoozing with a hugely overwhelming enemy…try to present themselves as “sympathetic” to the weaker side are the enemy.

        i missed the “sympathy” aspect you’re referencing. the only reference to sympathy litvin mentioned was in response to claire, and the references in the article to empathy, was reference to whether the aggressor was capable of it. i find the topic itself fascinating and in fact i have previously given a lot of thought to this very issue and posited (here on these pages somewhere in the archives, one time i recall in an alice rothchild article, by or about her, and another or other times) that the scale of the social trauma during and proceeding the holocaust coupled with the radical level of zionist propaganda directly targeting the jewish community accompanying the founding of the state made the targeted community more vulnerable to indoctrination (mass brainwashing). i recall positing that the generation who lived through the holocaust and their direct descendants might be permanently impacted by such a trauma, and for this reason it might not be until after that first generation dies — i will see if i can find it. i wasn’t thinking of it in terms of sympathy per se, i am genuinely interested in the effects of collective generational traumas. needless to say the nakba is a multi generational ongoing trauma. but how one society response to it can be radically different than another. and i think there’s relief from this sort of trauma in today’s american jewish youth. i think the further distance from trauma, the more potential deviations subside. it interests me that’s all.

        and i don’t perceive the author to be my enemy, ideologically so or otherwise.

        edit, here’s one conversation we had on generational trauma w/seafoid, elliot, tree, bornajew, mooser and others.

        just checking trauma in the archives.

      • y_litvin on May 6, 2017, 1:31 am

        Annie- thanks.
        Mice are solitary, rats social. So rats are a better model for human social behavior. There’s a book by Donald Pfaff that may interest you. It has many references-

      • annie on May 6, 2017, 1:20 pm

        thanks yoav, i actually believe that the nature of mankind is good, and trauma is the deviating factor resulting in other outcomes.

      • Mooser on May 6, 2017, 11:42 am

        “Looks like I’ll need you more often than I thought.”

        Actually, “Echin”, it might be more the other way round. I was too timid to bring up ‘direct action’ by those having unquestioned access until you brought it up.
        That’s what it’s going to come to. I’m sure Dr. Litvin can see both the justice, and the advantages of such a course of action. Think of what Hillel said: “If not us, than who the hell else to you expect to do it?”

      • Mooser on May 6, 2017, 11:50 am

        “Or do you mean that the Palestinians need to understand Israeli weaknesses, and find ways to exploit those weaknesses?”

        Don’t overlook the fact, which I am sure Dr. Litvin appreciates, that “to understand Israeli weaknesses, and find ways to exploit those weaknesses” will be of great use to anti-Zionists, too. It could provide many, many tools for anti-Zionists.

      • Mooser on May 6, 2017, 12:02 pm

        “Mice are solitary, rats social. So rats are a better model for human social behavior.”

        Those poor lonely mice. Mice are solitary,

        And again Mice are solitary

        Did I mention there’s no social pain transfer in mice? Mice are solitary Not like Israelis, I guess.

        Mice are never used in high-order social interaction studies. Mice are solitary!

        Of course, perhaps Israelis are more like rats than mice, I wouldn’t know.

      • Mooser on May 6, 2017, 1:16 pm

        “the world over, is the one who turns his gun on his bosses.”

        These are, of course, metaphorical firearms he refers to.
        I am sure “Echin” meant to write “takes direct action against”.

      • y_litvin on May 6, 2017, 1:44 pm

        Mooser- my advisors were the people who invented the VBS- the model you linked to. Simplified- mice are indeed solitary animals. Of course this is relative to rats. And of course there are people who run studies with mice- I just find them faulty when compared to rat studies. And of course we can get into a professional debate about this- I wrote a Master’s thesis and a dissertation on this work. Check McEwen and Blanchard for VBS studies with Randall Sakai as first author. Plus Blanchard and Blanchard for initial VBS studies and other work. I dare say I know more than you on this field, unless you provide me with your real name, in which case if you’re published in the field- we know each other personally.

      • y_litvin on May 6, 2017, 1:58 pm

        Mooser- and while we’re at it- here’s a link to a popscience piece about my own research into social behavior and mice. That’s not to say rats are not a better model for complex social behaviors–
        Re your rat/mouse Israeli claim- not worthy of comment

      • Mooser on May 6, 2017, 4:49 pm

        Dr. Litvin, the appeal-to-authority fallacy doesn’t get any less fallacious when you’re the authority.

      • Mooser on May 6, 2017, 5:12 pm

        “unless you provide me with your real name,.”

        What the hell is this? The old “Funny, but you don’t look Moose-ish” routine?

        But anyway, how do you feel about ‘direct action’ against Zionism? The shattering of the myth of ‘tribal unity’ should do the Israelis an endless amount of psychological good.

      • y_litvin on May 6, 2017, 5:39 pm

        Mooser – there’s no “appeal to authority” on my end, at least not in an abusive sense. I site my own work and others’ to back the claims I make- truth is my interest not arguing. That’s what any serious writer/academic does. You challenged my assertion and I provided evidence, as I am indeed an authority on this issue.
        Re “direct action” – I am all for shattering propaganda and providing historical truth, as I explicitly wrote in my piece. I also do not preach to Palestinians on method of resistance- I provide my insight and support to the best of my abilities.

      • Mooser on May 6, 2017, 6:49 pm

        “Re “direct action” – I am all for shattering propaganda and providing historical truth,”

        That’s a pretty direct action. Do you think Israelis can handle the truth? They tend to cut up rough.

      • echinococcus on May 6, 2017, 10:46 pm

        No contest: I, too, find the inner problems of invaders and aggressors fascinating. I also find them useful sometimes in trying to bring them to destroy each other.

        What I object to is 1) the mixing of issues of justice and resistance with this “understanding”, 2) the hammering of a sympathetic “understanding” that is an obvious invitation to (perhaps unconsciously) establish definitively as an unquestioned right, he continued presence of the invaders on Palestinian soil, as if it were something already authorized by the invaded people; 3) the presentation of this “understanding” as no different than sympathizing with the enemy in times of war, and it is war –not a “war of ideas”.

        About the rest of your message, I certainly don’t see the author here as enemy; on the contrary he is clearly in sympathy with the invaded. I have no beef with is published studies either, with which I am somewhat familiar (except perhaps some serious doubts on the clinical significance of the big soup of different phenomena mingled together as “epigenetics”, but that’s totally outside what we’re discussing.) What I cannot agree to is his statements about the significance or necessity of understanding the enemy, and his presenting the Zionist presence as if it were a done deal. There is still a lot of war to be done. In fact, resistance has barely started.

      • echinococcus on May 6, 2017, 10:57 pm

        Mooser, Mooser,

        Just as metaphorical as those they are using against the occupied populations. No more and no less.

      • Sibiriak on May 7, 2017, 2:54 am

        echinococcus: If, however, you think that the Zionists can be gotten rid of peacefully…

        Which Palestinian groups have plans to get rid of the Zionists?

        Which Palestinian groups have plans to “re-establish Palestine and the sovereignty of the Palestinian people over it.”?

      • echinococcus on May 7, 2017, 10:06 am


        Don’t again pretend that you can’t understand the difference between what is right, what is possible and what is possible at the moment.

        With the devastating attack by the US, the Zionist entity and their collaborators culminating at Oslo in 1993, what is left of Palestinian resistance organizations is precious little. As you know.

        Of course we don’t know yet if, in the course of time, the Zionists/US will manage the successful genocide of the Palestinians before the latter can get organized and profit from major international upheavals. We know such dire moments from the history of different occupied peoples. Sometimes genocide wins.

        What’s unclear to me is 1) why you pretend to accept US Empire as something immovable and eternal; 2) why you act as if a majority of the Palestinians would not support justice –never mind which organizations are left alive.

      • Mooser on May 7, 2017, 12:08 pm

        If we are looking for explanations of Israeli behavior, does science require we find a gender-neutral explanation? Could be different things for men and women.

      • Mooser on May 7, 2017, 9:03 pm

        “Just as metaphorical as those they are using against the occupied populations. No more and no less”

        If you think this is an appropriate place to suggest ‘direct action’ on that level. But that’s up to you.

  11. Ossinev on May 6, 2017, 9:57 am

    “A Close up look at Israeli apartheid”
    Thanks for the link and the illuminating if saddening article by by Fida Jiryis.

    It reminded me of stories about anti – Black and anti – Irish prejudice in 50`s and 60`s Britain when it came to letting rooms and lodgings.
    When doing some basic research I came across:

    Fascinating as I had never heard the term “Hibernophobia” before ! I expect Amigo has.

    • Mooser on May 6, 2017, 12:42 pm

      ” I had never heard the term “Hibernophobia” before !”

      It will be added to to the list, under “H”. Along with “Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia”, a scary word in itself. And “Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia”.

  12. Keith on May 6, 2017, 10:43 am

    YOAV LITVIN- “Regardless of whether you like it or not, Israelis must be understood in order for Palestinians to achieve justice.”

    I think that it would be far more beneficial to analyze the motivations and behavior of American Jewish Zionist elites. Over 90% of Netanyahu’s campaign funding came from foreign (read American) sources. He who pays the piper calls the tune. Obviously, these American Jewish Zionists are pleased with the rightward drift of Israeli politics. They also fund settlements and Birthright tours and probably receive some assistance from Mossad. In other words, the psychology of Israelis is to a significant degree the result of propaganda consistent with American Zionist elites objectives. The people in charge got what they wanted and until THEY change, your proposals are a pipe dream.

    • Mooser on May 6, 2017, 11:45 am

      “I think that it would be far more beneficial to analyze the motivations and behavior of American Jewish Zionist elites”

      “Keith”, they can’t help themselves. It’s an inherited trauma. Case dismissed!

    • y_litvin on May 6, 2017, 5:04 pm

      Keith — Agreed re importance of American Jewish Zionists. One doesn’t negate the other. Thanks for reading.

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